Cash-strapped WA govt finds $60m for e-health

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Cash-strapped WA govt finds $60m for e-health

Revenue drop devastates in the west.

The WA government has managed to scrape together roughly $60 million for e-health projects and another $13.7 million to upgrade its licensing and registration database in a budget described as the toughest the state has ever seen.

The state government has seen its revenue fall 22 percent since 2014-15 due to the drop in commodity prices coupled with reductions in GST income.

It is facing a debt balance close to $40 billion and no prospect of a return to surplus until 2019-20.

But it has still managed to gather together some modest funding for its struggling IT functions.

The largest new allocation in 2016-17 is $52.6 million for a medical imaging system for the Department of Health.

The unstable PACS-RIS system currently used by the health system was one of the key factors that led to the delay in the opening of the Fiona Stanley Hospital on the outskirts of Perth. A 2012 report [pdf] complained the system was falling over once a month and “compromising patient safety”.

WA Health will get the bulk of the PACS-RIS funding in 2016-17, will the remainder distributed out beyond the forward estimates.

It has also received allocations for the upgrade of its iPharmacy system and the replacement of its drug dependence monitoring system, plus other minor IT works.

At the Department of Transport, the government has set aside $13.7 million to modernise the information systems used to track driver's licences and vehicle services like car registration. It is looking to implement “new technology that increases access to the department’s services and constrains the cost of fees and charges to the community”.

The department will also receive another $21 million for IT infrastructure upgrades that will support this work and other technology operations.

The newly established Office of the GCIO will operate from total budget of roughly $9 million a year, budget papers reveal.

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